Having the chance to secure a custom built home is as close to the pinnacle of home ownership dreams as you can possibly get. A custom built house is not just about having a home which is guaranteed to be 100% original, or that every single thing inside and out – from key points to minor details have been designed to suit your needs, taste and preferences, although there’s no doubt that those things are amazing and much enjoyed.
It’s the whole package – the freedom to do exactly what you want, (subject obviously to local planning rules), the chance to make your mark on a property which could easily become the family home for many generations to come.
If you are thinking about hiring custom home builders to bring your own dream residence to life there are some important things you need to know before a final agreement is made between you. Here we run through these key points to either be aware of or to consider carefully so you can go ahead and make great decisions for you and your family’s future:
What is a custom home?
The simple answer is it’s a 100% unique house (in any number of styles) which is designed by either an architect or someone trained to do similar work, based on the input of the home owners regarding design, layout, room size and so on.
Hiring custom home builders
Before you actually hire people to start constructing your custom designed home there are some important things you need to know and pay attention to. These include:
Is the land to be used ready to go?
Whether you own the land the house is to be built on, or are buying it from an expert who deals in selling spaces for this purpose you must be completely certain all permissions necessary have been granted, and check the practical aspects such as making sure utilities are available and so on. There are probably fewer issues if you are working with a respected land agent but it’s best to take nothing for granted, as if there are disputes, problems or objections later it is your home which will be in the firing line.
Can you work well with the architect and builders?
These relationships need to last throughout the entire process of creating your custom built home, so if you have any doubts about anyone’s experience, ability or attitude it could have serious consequences on your deadline. Take the time you need to get to know the professionals and experts you will be working with, and look for those you feel communicate well, really listen to you (and follow that through into their actions),and of course someone who has your vision.
Every architect or home builder has their own style and way of working, so it’s not a case of ‘right and wrong’, but of finding someone who understands and appreciates your taste rather than simply imposing their own.
Are your custom homebuilders legitimate and well thought of? There are several ways you can check this out:
– By gathering names from people you know, (family, friends, colleagues, neighbors), and whose opinions you trust for personal recommendations. This could be quite tricky in such a niche area but you may have a connection to someone else who has done it, so it’s worth a try.
– They should have a registered business address at a physical location.
– Check that the business is at least a few years old. Established businesses rely on their reputation and word of mouth, and are easier to contact should you need to after the build is finished.
– Check out the building company on sites such as the BBB (Better Business Bureau), and local listings or sites which review and compare several companies.
– Ask for references, telephone numbers of previous customers, and for permission to look at completed work if possible. This is your chance to ask questions and hear about first-hand experiences from unbiased parties.
Is the custom homebuilder happy to create a written contract?
This is an essential document and any decent custom homebuilder wouldn’t think twice about creating one, in fact they would probably already do so as standard. A contract is useful as it contains details of everything from the agreed budget to timescales, milestones and the way things will work. If you think you may have a lead on a good custom homebuilder make a note to visit website soon, and check them out.
Are there any red flags?
Most people contracting with experts to build a custom designed house will probably only do this once, so knowing what kind of things could be seen as potential red flags may be a bit tricky. Apart from the always good advice to ‘listen to your gut instincts’ the main issues which should make you take a step back and regroup are:
- A request for a huge deposit before the job starts.
Of course it’s only fair that the builder receives some kind of down payment – if only to show your intentions are genuine, and equally it would be unfair if they purchased al materials upfront without help, only for the customer to cancel and leave them with a lot of unwanted items. The key is reasonable compromise. Dividing the work and payments into milestones – the bigger the job the more milestones – is the fairest and safest way for both parties to manage the work.
- A very low bid for the job
Arranging at least three quotes is standard if possible, and it may seem enticing if one is particularly competitive but it’s important to think critically about the fee each company is asking for. For example – do all quotes cover all work from start to finish, including labor and materials? What quality of materials are they planning to use? (It would be unusual for one builder to have access to materials priced dramatically lower than is standard.)
Keeping these things in mind when you are choosing a custom home builder should help you make a great choice, and enjoy a trouble-free build and many happy years beyond it in your dream home.